Service Invites Additional Comments on ESA Proposals for Two Prairie Butterflies
For Immediate Release
September 23, 2014
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period on its proposal to designate critical habitat for the Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling, two species of butterflies, under the Endangered Species Act, and on a proposed special rule for the Dakota skipper. The Service also released a draft economic analysis of the critical habitat designation. Comments on the proposed critical habitat designations and the economic analysis will be accepted through October 23, 2014. Comments on the special rule are accepted through October 7, 2014.
On October 24, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect the Dakota skipper as threatened and the Poweshiek skipperling as endangered under the Endangered Species Act due to steep population declines in both species. At that time, the Service also proposed a special rule, called a 4(d) rule, for the Dakota skipper and proposed to designate approximately 27,782 acres of critical habitat for the Dakota skipper and approximately 26,184 acres for the Poweshiek skipperling (many of those areas overlap, thus a total of 39,035 acres was proposed for both species combined).
Based on additional information received since October 2013, the Service revised its proposal to designate critical habitat for the two butterflies, removing some areas from the proposal and adding others. The Service is also considering modifying the proposed 4(d) rule that allows for some agricultural activities, including grazing, in the Dakota skipper’s range, even though the activities may affect the butterfly. Comments on those modifications are also sought.
The draft economic analysis released today by the Service considers the economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation for the two butterflies. Critical habitat contains areas or habitat features that are essential for the conservation of a listed species. A critical habitat designation imposes no requirements on state or private actions on state or private lands where no federal funding, permits or approvals are required. The Service’s draft analysis found that the most likely activities to be impacted by the critical habitat designation are agriculture and grazing activities covered by voluntary conservation agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in unoccupied critical habitat. The costs are borne largely by federal agencies, which are required to consult with the Service when a project they are funding, permitting or working on is likely to affect the species for which critical habitat is designated.
To see the Service’s draft economic analysis, changes to proposed critical habitat and changes being considered for the proposed Dakota skipper 4(d) rule, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/dask/